Highways sector tackling abuse head on according to Safer Highways Vice Chair

The highways industry is meeting the challenge of eradicating road worker abuse because of the on-going work of the Stamp It Out campaign, according to Joe Docherty, Vice Chairman of Safer Highways.

He was speaking about the progress of the campaign on BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester this week. This follows a report by the radio station into the rise in road worker abuse in the region. Road operatives spoke themselves on the report about the abuse they a facing on a daily basis. One worker described the situation as ‘horrendous’ and that he was scared to talk to members of the public now. “It’s happening most days which means the stress levels are high when I go home.”

A divisional manager for a major contracting company said: “Workers just accept abuse as part of the day job and I can’t have that. They take this home with them almost every day and many have considered changing careers.”

Mr Docherty said that road worker abuse was a ‘ever increasing problem’ and that many workers didn’t feel safe doing the job they love and that was affecting their mental health and wellbeing. He said: “Collectively the highways industry is working together to eradicate road worker abuse. There are three essential elements to this which is working on how we as an industry improve our communications. We realise we don’t always get it right but that shouldn’t lead to abuse of our workers. Secondly, we are developing conflict management training to help our teams be able to de-escalate situations that might lead to altercations.”

He went on to say: “We are also focused on working across the industry to standardise a app to encourage workers to report abuse as well as to understand in more detail, the full scale of the challenge so we can work together with the public and our clients to break the cycle of abuse and stamp it out.”

Recently it was revealed that only 42% of the public agree that enough is being done to protect roadworkers in the UK. The results were part of a new YouGov survey commissioned by workflow software specialists, Re-flow, with less than half the British public feeling that enough is done to keep roadworkers safe, showing that current standards are not considered good enough by taxpayers and road users.

In Scotland, a quarter of road workers have suffered mental health issues following verbal or physical abuse from the public while they work, new research has found.

Almost one in 10 staff said they have been subjected to physical abuse in the past year, while one in five reported having missiles thrown at them. The survey of Scotland’s trunk road maintenance companies, including Amey, Bear Connect and Autolink, found one in four respondents said the abuse they have experienced at work has affected their mental health.

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